Posts Tagged ‘The Block

03
Apr
09

Block anniversary party and Earl’s V opening

So The Block has expanded. Every woman/girl/female I know loves this store, and now there’s more of it.

Last night the store celebrated its 10th anniversary. Unlike previous years, I didn’t win anything (last year I took home a gift certificate won in a raffle ticket draw), but I did try on some hooded sweatshirts with plaid lining that I was sure the Texas Twister would hate. (She hates my plaid shoes.) But one was too small, the other too large.

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Block owner Jennifer and sales manager Meegan.

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Eugene O... yes, ladies, he's available!

Arrived somewhat late to the party, but that was because we’d gone to the opening of a new Earl’s restaurant. For those of you unfamiliar with the chain, it’s along the lines of Moxie’s and Cactus Club—nothing too adventurous on the menu, sugar-y cocktails, pretty servers paying off student loans. This Earl’s has the bonus of opening up in Yaletown, which is probably the neighbourhood with the most singles and disposable income per capita in the city. (Okay, I don’t have exact statistics at hand, but trust me on this.)

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Although I’m not the hugest Earl’s fan in the world (for one thing, I’ve been to a couple of the restaurants with my family, which is enough to turn me off any place), I have to admit they did up the grand opening party for Earl’s V (as it’s called) right. A wristband for media types got us free drinks upstairs in the V Lounge until we couldn’t see straight, and a couple of ice bars (bars made out of ice, natch) in the V Lounge offered P. Diddy’s vodka brand and Ketel One vodka with added condiments of your choice, from fresh ginger to lemongrass to strawberries. Servers brought along a steady supply of canapes, including sushi, seared scallops, and “short-rib sliders” (mini-burgers, which seem to be all the rage from here to Newfoundland) from the kitchen. (I don’t even want to mention the cheese and chocolate fondue station for fear of getting in trouble with the girlfriend, who wasn’t there.) A DJ played tunes that seemed to have been lifted from my record collection (for instance, Jesus and Mary Chain’s song with Mazzy Star’s Hope Sandoval, “Sometimes Always”, just over two minutes of beautiful fuzz and melody). Perhaps most impressively, the restrooms are outfitted with the latest in hand drying technology, Dyson airblades, which do to your skin what bathing suit dryers do to bathing suits.

I interviewed a couple of staff, including server Sarah Massie and “lounge leader” Tatum Govender. I’ll be adding those interviews later: in the meantime, some pics:

Earl's staff Jennifer, Amanda and Emily.

Earl's staff Jennifer, Amanda and Emily.

V Lounge leader Tatum.

V Lounge leader Tatum.

08
Apr
08

It’s okay, he’s from Winnipeg

Twelve years of marriage have turned Eugene into a maniac. Well, maybe that’s not fair. He’s always been outgoing, but with the dissolution of his primary relationship three months ago (he tossed his cheating spouse out Christmas Day) he’s been seizing nearly every opportunity that comes his way to meet women. Impressively, he’d already been chatting up a passenger on his flight to Vancouver from Winnipeg, his hometown (for those American readers unfamiliar with the terrain, Winnipeg is a frozen outpost, known for its ballet company, perogies, and Guy Maddin films, in the middle of Canada). He was still talking to his new friend, Michelle, by the baggage carousel at the Vancouver International Airport when I arrived to pick him up.

This interaction would pretty much set the tone for Eugene’s week-long stay, as we made it our mission to meet as many women as possible, or to let as few opportunities slide by as possible. This might sound weird, or questionable, but it’s not. After decades of not acting on such impulses, we’re both at a time of our lives when we figure, what the hell. And, after going through what he’s been through, he needs to be getting out there. (Uhm, I’m not sure what my excuse is.)

Not that our attempts were without pratfualls. For instance, on his first night in town, we ended up at Chill Winston (www.chillwinston.ca) for a nightcap (in the case of Euge, a non-drinker, a tea). At one point Laura, our pixie-ish hostess, began dancing to a song by an ’80s band, General Public. Eugene’s not insignificant eyebrows arched up. He was smiling. Uh-oh, I thought. Sure enough, he began trying to get Laura’s attention: “I saw them! I saw this band!” he said from his seat. When this didn’t work he stood up and waved his arms. “I saw this band!” he said again. I turned to Wingy, who was also there. “Quick, talk to me,” I said. “I don’t want to be part of this.” Perhaps if the band had been, oh, Fallout Boy, Euge’s exclamations would have created some interest. But General Public? Not gonna intrigue a girl who was a zygote when the band had its last hit. 

But hey, it’s not like I didn’t make a fool out of myself a couple of times. Or get made a fool of. Or made to look foolish. There was that night at a local commercial gallery, for instance.

The occasion was an art opening, and I’d told Eugene about a certain young lady who works at the gallery. Let’s call her “Asia Argento” because, even though she’s Eastern European, she’s pretty close to being just as exotically brunette as the Italian actress. Anyway, I’d met Asia a couple of times at other gallery events, and we’d even exchanged a few emails. I wasn’t about to ask her out–she’s got a boyfriend, as I learned through a previous embarassing phone call, but no need to get into that here–but I did want to make a good impression. So there I was with Euge and Wingy, admiring the intense colours of the paintings on display, when Euge says, “So where’s Asia?”

“Who?” asks Wingy.

“This girl Shawn’s been talking about.”

“Why haven’t I heard about her?” asked a panic-stricken Wingy. 

Uhm, because every time I tell you I’m interested in someone you ruin it for me?

Actually, I should’ve kept this thought in mind because when I went off to get a drink and, finally, talk to Asia–she was tending bar, but I’d studiously avoided her up until I’d had a sufficient quantity of alcohol, and warmed up my conversational skills by talking to various publicists–I might have had the sense to offer to bring him one back as well. Instead, he followed me to the makeshift bar counter at the back of the gallery. And, while I stood at the counter trying to be as nonchalant as my knocking knees and sweat-drenched forehead would allow as Asia poured our drinks, Wingy said (and I’m not making this up) to her, “I bet I can guess your name.”

“Okay, what is it?” asks Asia. Did I mention she has a Cindy Crawford-like mole?

“Asia.”

“How did you know?” she asks, eyes wide with surprise, then narrowing with suspicion at yours truly. Then, “Shawn told you!”

“No no no,” I said, suddenly realizing what was going on. “It’s this weird talent he has–it’s like ESP.” You have no idea how it pained me to say this, by the way.

“Hmm,” said Wingy with detachment. “This is embarassing.”

Uh, yeah.

Wingy claimed that he hadn’t known this was THE Asia Euge had just been talking about, but whatever–the upshot of it was, now the lithesome gallerina totally thinks I was talking about her to my friends. Which I was, but that’s definitely not something I want her to think. Thanks, Wingy!

That same night, I started chatting up a couple of art lovers, Trish and Caroline. It wasn’t long before Euge joined in. Somehow, talk turned to style, and Trish began giving Eugene–dressed more for a hike in the mountains than a gallery opening–a hard time. I later used his lack of fashion sense at the 9th anniversary party of The Block (www.theblock.ca), a Gastown clothing store, as an opening to talk to a group of girls about what jeans he should buy. The irony is, I was the one who bought a pair of jeans. (A further irony: this led to the only rea disagreement Euge and I had during his trip, a weird fashion vs. anti-fashion argument I may have to come back to in a future blog installment.)

Anyway, I don’t have space to get into all the other episodes, some not even embarassing or ironic, that transpired last week. The main thing is, my good friend had a great time during his visit and got his mind off his marital woes, if only briefly. If this post comes across as a little glib in the face of personal tragedy, it’s only my way of trying to keep things light. As we all know, all the emails and phone numbers in the world don’t mean a thing when you can’t have the one you want.  

 




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